Indexed on: 14 Mar '07Published on: 14 Mar '07Published in: International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
The burden of providing care to a family member, who has a mental illness, has been investigated in the past. However, limited research has focused on how parents cope, as they attempt to maintain a functional family life, when they have a child with a mental illness. This study explored, using a descriptive correlational design, the: (i) differences between parents of a child with mental illness, regarding caregiver burden, coping patterns, and demographic characteristics; (ii) effect parental educational level, parental working status, educational level of the child, diagnosis of the child, and family economic status have on parental caregiver burden and coping patterns; (iii) relationships among caregiver burden and coping patterns; and (iv) demographic characteristics of parents and children that predict caregiver burden and parental coping patterns. Data were collected via interview using structured questionnaires, from 97 mainland Chinese parents who had a child with a mental illness. The findings revealed the parents perceived significant caregiver burden, while caring for their child with a mental illness, yet used limited coping patterns to maintain a functional family life. Also, a significant negative correlation was found between the parents' caregiver burden and the way of coping. Parental physical health and the child's educational level were the best predictors of caregiver burden, while parental physical health and educational levels were the best predictors of the way of coping. Findings suggest that effective nursing interventions should be instituted to help parents of a child with mental illness cope with caregiver burden, while maintaining a functional family life.